A blogger's checklist: Fourteen tips to get your blog noticed
Whenever you start a new blog post, no matter how passionate you are about the topic, you must also consider your plan for getting it noticed.
I'd love to say there's a magic formula for sharing a blog post quickly and efficiently with your target audience and beyond, but there's no quick fix. The truth is, you have to put as much effort into publicising a blog as publishing it (if not more!)
But there's some good practice you can follow to attract readers, and I hope you find the following list of questions helpful. You can refer back to this blogging checklist each time you write a new blog post.
I'd love to hear your feedback about what's worked well for you in getting your blog noticed.
Fourteen tips to help you establish a successful blog
1. Do you have a clear blogging strategy?
I recommend blogging on a regular basis, whether that's daily, weekly or monthly. Readers like to know when to expect new content, and it will also help you establish a natural rhythm to your writing. Depending on how often you wish to write, set aside sufficient time in your schedule for both researching ideas, writing and editing. I prefer to write and review on particular days of the week. I find lazy, rainy Saturday afternoons (like today!) and Sunday mornings are the best time for me to write first drafts and then edit. My mind is more still at the weekend, and I feel more relaxed, so the words tend to flow more easily.
The words also flow better if you plan your content in advance. It takes weeks to come up with a topic with an interesting angle, to research your subject, write your post, edit it – and edit it again! – and refine it further. So allowing yourself 4-8 weeks to prepare a blog post ensures you have ample time to curate and research your content, as well as devise your plan for promoting it.
Don't be forced into a blogging schedule you can't sustain. Create a realistic editorial calendar to support your blogging goals and only produce blog posts that match your objectives. This ensures you maintain a clear focus and keep the quality of your content high.
2. Have you researched your target audience and their needs?
Rather than wasting time coming up with random ideas for blog posts, it's more efficient to ask your readers directly what they'd like to hear about. This will help you focus on topics and content that are relevant and interesting to your readers.
To find out what your readers want, you could study the performance of your existing blog posts or ask your readers directly through surveys. If you prefer to take a less formal approach, you could ask for comments and feedback via social media. Twitter and Facebook are both great for that. You could also research the latest trends by going to networking events and similar industry events.
3. Is the content you've produced original and well written?
Above all, ensure you post well written and original content. Your thoughts and opinions matter. That's what makes your content different from everyone else's, and more likely to resonate with certain groups of reader.
Your content needs to be well researched and supported. Once you've decided on your subject matter, then research and add your experience and observations so it's original. Always remember to include internal and external links, and acknowledge your sources so it's credible.
Remember to write for a specific purpose, for example to help or inform others - not just to fill a blank web page. This will ensure your blog is shared and liked in equal measure.
4. Is your blog content relevant?
Write about the topics and trends that are key to your audience. And don't take so long to craft your post and publish it that you're behind the trends. Lots of marketers are taking advantage of the hot topic of GDPR right now, so that's provided a wealth of rich content for marketing teams worldwide. Relevancy is core to blogging success and is one of your competitive advantages to gain audience attention. Don't be afraid to share your opinion about upcoming trends and new legislation.
5. Are you using a variety of content styles?
It's a good idea to feature new content regularly for your readers, for example by changing the type of blog that you publish. You can use different styles of template, incorporate unusual visual elements or use infographics, for example, to share information in a more visually appealing way. Consider having different types of format, length, authorship and content. This keeps your blog looking fresh and attractive to your audience.
Research suggests that articles with images get 94% more views compared to articles without images. Make your blog interesting by including more graphics and photos. Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn all reward highly visual content in shares and views alike.
Photos, graphics, infographics and videos all help tell a story. They give the reader a nice visual break and add colour and depth to your writing, but more importantly, they also increase traffic to your blog.
6. Are you publishing regularly?
Consistency is key when publishing blogs. However often you decide to publish, make sure you stick to this timetable. Readers will look forward to hearing from you once a month or once a week.
Once you've published your blog post, you need to regularly share updates about the post. You might share that you're working on a series of blog posts, or you might share a post you wrote in the past. There's nothing wrong with recycling old articles on social media, assuming they're still relevant. Simply sharing your article once, or once in a while, won't generate the interest that you're looking for from readers. Popular bloggers share links to old articles on their blog for years!
You may start by publishing several times a week, but this could impact your standards of posts. It may be that once or twice a week is optimum for you in order to maintain your standards and content.
7. Are you using keywords to increase traffic to your blog?
In general, your aim will be to generate long-term search traffic for all posts you publish.
Research your market to understand what terms and keywords your readers may be searching for on Google or similar. By writing a well-researched, high-quality piece on these topics you will be able to increase its search engine rankings and increase the number of post views.
Not only can these posts generate increased views of your blog, to drive business, but they can also create new growth opportunities. You may be found by partners who are interested in collaborating with your business.
If you want to generate long-term search traffic for your blog posts, learning how to do keyword research is vital. Familiarise yourself with the concept of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and optimise your blog and your articles to rank well for relevant keywords in Google and other search engines.
8. Does your headline stand out?
A great headline can bring people to a blog post from RSS feeds, social media, and search engines.
In fact, there can be up to as many as 60-80 times more people reading your headlines on social media than actually read your blog posts. So if you want to get ahead, get a standout headline.
On average, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read your content. That's why it's really important to spend time focusing on your blog titles and headlines.
To increase SEO for your blog, make sure the headline, the sub-headings and especially the first paragraph of each post are rich with your keywords. Don't pack them with keywords so they sound unnatural, but small tweaks to individual words can have a big impact.
9. Are your topical blog posts still relevant?
There are many blog posts whose topics are topical, appearing in current news and trends, whereas others can be used and shared over and over again. As things change quickly in the social media landscape, the information in a blog post can fast become outdated.
Instead of only writing new blog posts, spend time updating existing blog posts on topics that might require some updated information or are becoming more topical. This will keep your blog posts relevant and useful for your readers while increasing the potential for more traffic through search engines.
10. Is it appropriate to include other bloggers?
One technique that superstar bloggers use to grow their blogs is that of linking to many other bloggers in their articles, and then contacting or mentioning the bloggers referenced, to let them know and encourage more sharing and engagement. The result can be hundreds, sometimes thousands, of shares per article and ultimately increased traffic.
Where appropriate, link to other bloggers in your posts and email them to let them know about your article. Many of them will share your article, resulting in more traffic for you.
Guest blogging on other blogs is another powerful way to increase traffic and gain exposure to your blog. Inviting others to guest post for your own blog can be equally powerful.
If you invite others to write for you, especially if they have a much bigger reach than you do, they are more likely to share their guest post with their readers. The result of this will be more traffic to your blog.
11. Can you feature owners or influencers of popular social media groups?
There are several Facebook and LinkedIn groups with thousands and tens of thousands of followers.
A good way to get traffic from social media groups is to interview the owners, or influencers, of these groups and ask them to share the article you feature them in. Even if they do not share your article, you can share it in the group yourself as a member of the group.
Another option is to identify influencers in your niche with good reach, write a case study about these influencers and ask them to share it. David O’Beirne of ExhibitorsOnly.biz asked to write a case study about my exhibition presence, Vanessa’s Facebook Café, at the B2C Marketing Expo in March 2018. I'm delighted with the extra coverage, of course – and pleased to return the favour with this link to his site from my blog.
12. Are you commenting on blogs and social media?
If you wish to create an influential blog, you can't be seen to be silent. You need to demonstrate your expertise by commenting on blogs of others in your industry. You also need to reply to any comments on your own blog, whether positive or negative. Ignoring comments on your blog is a crime. Don't be found guilty!
Responding to comments encourages others to contribute and raises awareness and interest in your blog.
13. Have you shared your blog post on social media?
You need to promote and share your blog posts on as many social media or networking sites as you can. Make it easier for your readers to share your content by including buttons for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram beneath your blog post. The easier you make sharing for your audience, the more likely they are to share. A good idea is to keep your blog title within the Twitter character limit, so your readers can easily re-tweet it.
There are creative ways to share a blog post. You can:
- Create Instagram stories with the key points of your blog post and invite your Instagram followers to check out the full post on your blog.
- Create short videos of the content in the blog post, and share them on Twitter and Facebook. Both Facebook and LinkedIn have higher sharing potential and engagement, and consequently more reach, when you include video, rather than just posts or links.
- Customise your posts for each platform, rather than simply sharing the same link on each social media platform. For example you could post a Facebook Live and include a link to the blog in the post. The use of different media on different platforms can increase your website traffic substantially.
14. Have you shared your post in a newsletter?
Your email contact list (assuming your contacts have opted-in in accordance with GDPR) could potentially be the number one driver of traffic to your content. Many bloggers stress the value of their email list. Not only is email a great way to drive traffic to your site, but it ensures your readers see your blog post straight away. This is especially important when the message is time critical.
You can use your email newsletter to notify your followers of new blog post, content you're working on and any events you're attending. Keeping in touch with your readers by email and social media is key to building long-term relationships with them.
Reviewing your blog statistics
It's essential for future blogging and business growth to understand which topics are favourites and which of your blog posts proved most popular, as well as those that perhaps didn't do so well.
There are many analytics tools available to help you identify your most successful topics, which posts are being shared at the highest rates and which blog entries generate increased purchase behaviour or followers. Scheduling tools like Buffer allow you to easily view the analytics of your shared posts, such as how many likes, how many comments and how many views. This information is priceless in helping you identify future blog topics and the best ways to publicise your blog.
Perhaps you'd like to share one of your high-performing blog posts with us in the Comments? Why do you think it proved so successful?
"What you do after you create your content is what truly counts." - Gary Vaynerchuk
Written by Vanessa Hunt
Vanessa worked as an independent CRM Consultant from 2006, before establishing Vanessa Hunt Consulting Ltd in January 2010. She's held training and management positions in software organisations and consultancies such as Maximizer Software Ltd, McAfee, Detica and CSC Computer Sciences. With twenty years' experience in training, marketing and CRM, she's very much at home in anything martech, CRM or cloud related. When she's not in the classroom in heels, she's outdoors in muddy boots!